A memoir of the upstate New York getaway where the icons of the Beat Generation gathered.
During the late 1960s, when peace, drugs, and free love were direct challenges to conventional society, Allen Ginsberg, treasurer of the Committee on Poetry, Inc., funded what he hoped was “a haven for comrades in distress” in rural upstate New York. First described as an uninspiring, dilapidated four-bedroom house with acres of untended land, including the graves of its first residents, East Hill Farm became home to those who sought pastoral enlightenment in the presence of Ginsberg’s brilliance and generosity.
A self-declared member of a “ragtag group of urban castoffs,” including Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, Herbert Huncke, and the mythic Barbara Rubin, Gordon Ball tended to a non-stop flurry of guests, chores, and emotional outbursts while also making time to sit quietly with Ginsberg and discuss poetry, Kerouac, sex, and America’s war in Vietnam. Here, in honest and vivid prose, he offers a rare intimate glimpse of the poetic pillar of the Beat Generation.
“Only a masterful storyteller like Gordon Ball could turn a depressing tale of poets at rock bottom into a triumph of the human spirit . . . Ball has painstakingly traced his days as the ‘farm manager’ who tried to plant the crops, do the chores, and keep on an even keel while the rest of the tribe were literally bouncing off the walls. It led him to tremendous joy, sadness, ecstasy, and a black eye. This is a personal book that examines the period that changed America—for better or worse? You decide.” —Bill Morgan, author of I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg